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Sakamoto Ryōma
Sakamoto Ryōma
(坂本 龍馬, January 3, 1836 – December 10, 1867) was a Japanese prominent figure in the movement to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate
Tokugawa shogunate
in bakumatsu Japan. One of his most noted accomplishments during this period was the negotiation of peace between Chōshū (present day Yamaguchi Prefecture) and Satsuma (present day Kagoshima
Kagoshima
Prefecture), two powerful provinces that had long been hostile to each other. He then united them against the Bakufu, the government of the Tokugawa shōgun. Ryōma frequently used the alias Saitani Umetarō (才谷梅太郎) during this period, as he was often hunted by the Bakufu
Bakufu
supporters, such as members of the Shinsengumi. He was ultimately attacked and murdered, along with his companion Nakaoka Shintarō, at an inn in Kyoto.

Contents

1 Early life 2 Politics 3 Bakumatsu
Bakumatsu
period 4 Death 5 Legacy 6 Honors in modern times 7 Family 8 In popular culture 9 Gallery 10 See also 11 Notes 12 References 13 External links

Early life[edit] Ryōma was born in Kōchi, of Tosa han (present day Kōchi Prefecture), on the island of Shikoku. By the Japanese calendar, he was born on the 15th day of the 11th month, of the sixth year of Tenpō. Previous generations of his family had acquired enough wealth as sake brewers to purchase the rank of country samurai, or Gōshi (ja), which was the lowest rank in the samurai hierarchy. Unlike other domains, Tosa had a strictly-enforced separation between joshi (high-ranked samurai) and kashi (low-ranked samurai). Joshi and kashi were treated unequally and residential areas were segregated; even in Sakamoto Ryōma's generation (the third in the Sakamoto family), his family's samurai rank remained kashi. At the age of twelve, Ryōma was enrolled in a private school, but this was a brief episode in his life, as he showed little scholarly inclination. His older sister subsequently enrolled him in fencing classes of the Oguri-ryū when he was 14, after he was bullied at school. By the time he reached adulthood he was by all accounts a master swordsman. In 1853 he was allowed by his clan to travel to Edo
Edo
to train and polish his skills as a swordsman. There he enrolled as a student at the famous Hokushin Ittō-ryū
Hokushin Ittō-ryū
Hyōhō Chiba-Dōjō, which was led by its first Headmaster Chiba Sadakichi Masamichi at that time. He received the scroll from the school that declared his mastery.[1] He became a shihan at the Chiba-Dōjō and taught Kenjutsu
Kenjutsu
to the students together with Chiba Jūtarō Kazutane, in whom he found a close friend. That year, Commodore Matthew C. Perry
Matthew C. Perry
of the United States arrived with a fleet of ships to force Japan
Japan
out of its centuries-old national isolation policy. Politics[edit] When Ryōma completed his studies in 1858, he returned to Tosa. In 1862, his friend, Takechi Hanpeita
Takechi Hanpeita
(or Takechi Zuizan), organized the Tosa Loyalist Party "Kinnoto". Their political slogan was, "Revere the Emperor, Expel the Barbarians". It consisted of about 2000 samurai, mostly from the lower rank, who insisted on the reform of the Tosa government. Since the Tosa lord refused to recognize the group, they plotted to assassinate Yoshida Toyo (who was later assassinated, but after Ryōma had left Tosa). Ryōma participated in the plot but did not advocate it; Takechi demanded a revolution for only the Tosa clan, and Ryōma thought they should do something for all of Japan. He decided to leave Tosa and separate from Takechi. In those days, no one was permitted to leave their clan without permission, on penalty of death. One of Ryōma's sisters committed suicide because he left without permission. Sakamoto would later use the alias "Saitani Umetarō" (才谷 梅太郎) as he worked against the shogun.[2] He is mentioned under this alias in the diary of Ernest Satow
Ernest Satow
for 30 September 1867: "Mr. Saedani had to be sat up for laughing at the questions put by us, evidently with the object of ridiculing us out of our case, but he got a flea in his lug and shut up making the most diabolical faces."[3] Bakumatsu
Bakumatsu
period[edit] While a ronin, Ryōma decided to assassinate Katsu Kaishū, a high-ranking official in the Tokugawa shogunate
Tokugawa shogunate
and a supporter of both modernization and westernization. However, Katsu Kaishū persuaded Ryōma of the necessity of a long-term plan to increase Japan's military strength. Instead of killing Katsu Kaishū, Ryōma started working as his assistant and protégé. In 1864, as the Tokugawa shogunate
Tokugawa shogunate
began taking a hard line, Ryōma fled to Kagoshima
Kagoshima
in Satsuma Domain, which was developing as a major centre for the anti-Tokugawa movement. Ryōma negotiated the secret alliance between Chōshū and Satsuma provinces. Satsuma and Chōshū historically had been irreconcilable enemies, and Ryōma's position as a "neutral outsider" was critical in bridging the gap in trust. Ryōma is often regarded as the "father of the Imperial Japanese Navy", as he worked under Katsu Kaishū's direction toward creating a modern naval force (with the aid of western powers) to enable Satsuma and Chōshū to hold their own against the naval forces of the Tokugawa shogunate.[citation needed] Ryōma founded the private navy and trading company Kameyama Shachū in Nagasaki City with the help of Satsuma. Later Kameyama Shachū became Kaientai
Kaientai
or Ocean Support Fleet. Chōshū's subsequent victory over the Tokugawa army in 1866 and the impending collapse of the Tokugawa shogunate
Tokugawa shogunate
made Ryōma a valuable commodity to his former masters in Tosa. Ryōma was recalled to Kōchi with honours. The Tosa domain was anxious to obtain a negotiated settlement between the Shogun and the Emperor, which would prevent the powerful Satchō Alliance
Satchō Alliance
from overthrowing the Tokugawa by force and thus emerging as a new dominant force in ruling Japan. Ryōma again played a crucial role in the subsequent negotiations that led to the voluntary resignation of the Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu
Tokugawa Yoshinobu
in 1867, thus bringing about the Meiji Restoration. Ryōma was an admirer of democratic principles. Ryōma began studying democratic governance, particularly the United States
United States
Congress and British Parliament as a model for the governance of Japan
Japan
after the Restoration. Ryōma argued that after centuries of having little political power, the Imperial Court lacked the resources and wherewithal to run the country. Ryōma wrote the "Eight Proposals While Shipboard" (『船中八策』) while discussing the future model of Japanese government with Gotō Shōjirō
Gotō Shōjirō
on board a Tosa ship outside Nagasaki in 1867. Ryōma outlined the need for a democratically elected bicameral legislature, the writing of a Constitution, the formation of a national army and navy, and the regulation of gold and silver exchange rates. Ryōma's proposals are thought to form the basis for the subsequent parliamentary system implemented after his death. Death[edit] Ryōma was assassinated at the age of 31 at the Ōmiya (近江屋) inn in Kyoto, not long before the Meiji Restoration
Meiji Restoration
took place. On the night of December 10, 1867, assassins gathered at the door of the inn and one approached and knocked, acting as an ordinary caller. The door was answered by Ryōma's bodyguard and manservant, a former sumo wrestler who told the stranger he would see if Ryōma was accepting callers at that hour of the evening. When the bodyguard turned his back, the visitor at the door drew his sword and slashed his back, which became a fatal wound. The team of assassins rushed over and passed the dying sumo wrestler and up the stairs to the guests' rooms. Ryōma and Nakaoka Shintarō
Nakaoka Shintarō
were resting in one room talking. Hearing the scuffle on the first floor, Ryōma opened the door to yell at his bodyguard, thinking he was wrestling with a friend. The assassins charged the room, some tearing through the paper doors (shōji), and a confused melée ensued as lamps were knocked over and the room went dark. By the end of the fight, both Ryōma and Shintaro lay badly wounded, and the assassins fled. Ryōma died that night, regretting with his last words that his assassins caught him unprepared. Shintaro died two days later. The night of the assassination was eventually called the Omiya Incident. According to the traditional lunar calendar, Ryōma was born on the 15th day of the 11th month, and killed on his birthday in 1867. Initial reports accused members of the Shinsengumi
Shinsengumi
for Ryōma's and Shintarō's deaths, and Shinsengumi
Shinsengumi
leader Kondō Isami
Kondō Isami
was later executed on this charge. However, members of another pro-shōgun group, the Mimawarigumi, confessed to the murder in 1870. Although Mimawarigumi members Sasaki Tadasaburō (佐々木 只三郎) and Imai Nobuo carry the blame, the identity of the true assassin has never been proven.[4] Legacy[edit]

Teradaya inn, Kyoto, where Ryōma was attacked in a failed assassination attempt, before being fatally injured at Omiya Inn.

Ryōma was a visionary who dreamt of an independent Japan
Japan
without feudal trappings. He read about the West and was inspired by the example of the United States
United States
where "all men are created equal". He realized that to compete with an industrially and technologically advanced outside world, the Japanese people
Japanese people
needed to modernize. He has also been seen as an intriguing mix of the traditional and modern, symbolized by his preference for samurai dress while favoring western footwear.[citation needed] Ryōma has been heavily featured and romanticized in popular culture.[citation needed] Honors in modern times[edit] On 15 November 2003, the Kōchi Airport
Kōchi Airport
was renamed the Kōchi Ryōma Airport in his honor. There is a Sakamoto Ryōma Memorial Museum
Sakamoto Ryōma Memorial Museum
(坂本龍馬記念館) south of Kōchi, with a large bronze statue of Ryoma overlooking the sea. The city of Kōchi has a number of Ryōma-themed attractions and locations, including the Sakamoto Ryōma
Sakamoto Ryōma
Birthplace Memorial, and the Sakamoto Ryōma
Sakamoto Ryōma
Hometown Museum, dedicated to showing what downtown Kōchi was like during Ryōma's childhood, including relevant aspects that may have influenced his views. On 15 November 2009, the Hokkaidō Sakamoto Ryōma Memorial Museum
Sakamoto Ryōma Memorial Museum
was built in Hakodate, Hokkaido. Asteroid 2835 Ryoma is named after him. Asteroid 5823 Oryo is named after his wife. Family[edit] Parents

Father Yahei (Imina Naotari) Mother Sachi

Stepmother

Iyo

Brother

Gonbei (the elder)

Sisters

Chizu (the eldest) Ei (the second) Tome (the third)

Wife

Narasaki Ryō
Narasaki Ryō
(commonly called Oryō)

Child

Tarō (adopted child, Chizu's child)

In popular culture[edit] An April 2010 Japan
Japan
Times article wrote "Ryōma has inspired at least seven television drama series, six novels, seven manga and five films."[5] His appeal stems from being "the kind of person onto whom anyone can project themselves", as actor Masaharu Fukuyama
Masaharu Fukuyama
described his role playing him in the NHK
NHK
drama Ryōmaden.[6] Sakamoto is a recurring character in the NHK
NHK
Taiga Drama: Shinsengumi!. He is portrayed as a friend of Kondō Isami
Kondō Isami
since their younger days. In the drama he is assassinated by Sasaki Tadasaburō and the Mimawarigumi. In Ryū Ga Gotoku Ishin!, the second samurai-themed spinoff to the Yakuza series, Sakamoto Ryōma
Sakamoto Ryōma
is the main protagonist played by Takaya Kuroda, and is modeled after series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu. Sakamoto appears in the historical manga Shura no Toki, which was later adapted into the anime, Mutsuen Meiryū Gaiden: Shura no Toki. In addition, he also makes appearances, with varying levels of historical accuracy, in numerous other manga, anime, and video games. GReeeeN
GReeeeN
wrote a song about what Sakamoto would be like in the modern world, named "SAKAMOTO". Gallery[edit]

Sakamoto Ryōma
Sakamoto Ryōma
in 1867

Narasaki Ryō
Narasaki Ryō
(Oryō), born in Kyoto, Ryōma's wife

Tomb of Sakamoto Ryōma, in Ryōzen Gokoku Jinja (京都霊山護国神社), Kyoto.

Tomb of Sakamoto Ryōma
Sakamoto Ryōma
(detail).

Flag of Kaientai

Sakamoto family crest, Kikyōmon (Chinese bellflower)

See also[edit]

Gotō Shōjirō Shūsui Kōtoku The Top 100 Historical Persons in Japan Ryoma Ansatsu: 1974 film depicting Ryoma's last three days.

Notes[edit]

^ Kyodo, Staff Report, "Sakamoto swordsmanship scroll declared authentic", The Japan
Japan
Times, Nov 9, 2015 ^ Hongo, Jun, "Sakamoto, the man and the myth", The Japan
Japan
Times, April 27, 2010, p. 3. ^ R. Morton & I. Ruxton, eds., The Diaries of Sir Ernest Mason Satow, 1861–69, Kyoto: Eureka Press, 2013, p. 262. ^ Gombrich, Marius, "Crime scene investigation: Edo: Samurai
Samurai
Sakamoto Ryoma's murder scene makes a grisly but fascinating show", The Japan Times, May 7, 2010, p. 15. ^ http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0032310/ ^ Corkill, Edan (January 3, 2010). "Legendary, dirty samurai gets makeover". The Japan
Japan
Times. Retrieved January 3, 2010. 

References[edit]

Japan
Japan
portal History portal Nautical portal Biography portal

Beasley, William G. (1972). The Meiji Restoration. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0804708150, ISBN 9780804708159. OCLC 579232. Jansen, Marius B., and Gilbert Rozman, eds. (1986). Japan
Japan
in Transition: from Tokugawa to Meiji. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691054592, ISBN 9780691054599. OCLC 12311985. Jansen, Marius B. (1961). Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration. Princeton: Princeton University Press. OCLC 413111.

External links[edit]

Japanese Wikisource
Wikisource
has original text related to this article: Letters of Ryōma Sakamoto

Japanese Wikisource
Wikisource
has original text related to this article: Senchū hassaku

Japanese Wikisource
Wikisource
has original text related to this article: Shin seifu koryō hassaku

Japanese Wikisource
Wikisource
has original text related to this article: The documents about Ryōma Sakamoto

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
has media related to: Sakamoto Ryoma (category)

The Sakamoto Ryōma Memorial Museum
Sakamoto Ryōma Memorial Museum
in Kochi (in English) Hokkaidō Sakamoto Ryōma Memorial Museum
Sakamoto Ryōma Memorial Museum
(in Japanese) Nagasaki Kameyamashachū Memorial Museum (in Japanese) Kyōto National Museum 2005 - Sakamoto Ryōma
Sakamoto Ryōma
exhibitions (in English) 2010 NHK
NHK
Taiga drama exhibitions "Ryōmaden" (in Japanese)

Edo-Tokyo Museum 2010 NHK
NHK
Taiga drama exhibitions "Ryōmaden" The Museum of Kyoto
Kyoto
2010 NHK
NHK
Taiga drama exhibitions "Ryōmaden" Kōchi Prefectural Museum of History 2010 NHK
NHK
Taiga drama exhibitions "Ryōmaden" Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture 2010 NHK
NHK
Taiga drama exhibitions "Ryōmaden"

Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture " Ryōmaden
Ryōmaden
Kan 2010" (in Japanese) National Diet Library
National Diet Library
electronic library "Kanketsu senri no koma" (in Japanese) National Diet Library
National Diet Library
biography & photo (in English) National Diet Library
National Diet Library
Shin seifu koryō hassaku (in English) Japan
Japan
Mint: Sakamoto Ryōma
Sakamoto Ryōma
2007 Proof Coin Set (in Japanese) Shotentai.com -About Sakamoto Ryoma (in Japanese) GReeeeN
GReeeeN
「SAKAMOTO」

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 109704534 LCCN: n80133139 ISNI: 0000 0001 1698 2342 GND: 119021234 SUDOC: 119908603 BNF: cb16242000n (d

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